Howard Marks

Today is St. David's Day, so I can't think of a better time to mention infamous welshman, Howard Marks. 

I only discovered this week that he has been diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer, a horrible fate to befall anyone.

I met and photographed Howard Marks a couple of years ago at the Bloomsbury Theatre where he was performing his one-man show 'An audience with Mr. Nice' in aid of the homeless charity, Crisis.
He was charismatic and charming; traits that no doubt helped him to become top of the game in drug smuggling. This, along with his strong desire to see cannibis legalised may be what he is most famous for, but he has lived a colourful life, including acquiring a Physics degree from Oxford and being father to several children. 

He is just another human being with his own life story. True, his story is more colourful than many, but at least he has been true to what he believes in. 

Another piece of trivia is that he and I share a birthday!

Anyway, I wish him luck on his final journey, and here a couple of pics...

Howard Marks on stage at the Bloomsbury Theatre 2013

Howard Marks on stage at the Bloomsbury Theatre 2013

Howard Marks

Howard Marks




Fleeting February

As February is a short month, I think I am entitled to a short post!

It's been a project-propelled month which has seen me cycling to Chigwell to cover another stage in the Vineyard process. I'd quite fancied the idea of working on a vineyard, but there is some serious labour involved, and you have to be dedicated to nurture your vines on a cold grey day in Essex!

I got a record five additions to the Downtime project under my belt. All can be seen on the projects page, but here are a couple of favourites:

I had great fun with Robbie on Brick Lane, despite the freezing conditions and the crowds! A lot of location/street photography is about patience, and it paid dividends as we got some perfectly placed passers-by. (There's a tongue-twister in there somewhere)

I had great fun with Robbie on Brick Lane, despite the freezing conditions and the crowds! A lot of location/street photography is about patience, and it paid dividends as we got some perfectly placed passers-by. (There's a tongue-twister in there somewhere)

A very proud Ray with a small selection of his butterfly collection. What this guy doesn't know about butterflies & dragonflies... His collection is to be bequeathed to The Natural History museum. Cool!

A very proud Ray with a small selection of his butterfly collection. What this guy doesn't know about butterflies & dragonflies...

His collection is to be bequeathed to The Natural History museum. Cool!

We had the private view for London Independent photographer's (crouch end group) this week; great turn-out and a wide variety of exemplary work. Scroll down for opening times etc.

I got asked to photograph another Somalian wedding party, which in itself is fine, but the organisation of some of these weddings is mind-boggling: I was initially asked if I was available around 1pm on the day of the party, but had assumed it was a no-go, until at 5.50pm I got the call to confirm. I got home just in time to change, get my gear together and arrive at the party for a 7 pm start! Seems you can pick up a photographer anytime, any place, any where!

It wasn't like a small party!

It wasn't like a small party!

Some other highlights were my mudlarking expedition which I have written about already, and a long-overdue visit to My old Dutch on Shrove Tuesday. I would advise going there with an empty stomach!

Flipping out on Shrove Tuesday.

Flipping out on Shrove Tuesday.

Marching on to, well, March... have a good one!

Amanda 
 

Jetting January

Have you noticed how the British tradition of talking about the weather is being infiltrated by talk about how quickly time flies? Yes, it is 2nd February, and January had thirty-one days, same as every January since the Gregorian calendar got under way. Please stop, as I am already starkly aware of this fact, especially after signing off my Son's choices for his GCSE options last week. I am sure he only started school a few weeks back!

Something else that invariably stays the same is that January is a quiet month for business, unless of course you are a Fitness centre. If you've ever had any business training you'll know that this is the month for getting your affairs in order and preparing to springboard into the new year of opportunities! Well, I filed my tax return in the first week of January instead of the last, so I call that progress.

I did have some actual work including a photography consultation/ tuition, where my client has learned new ways of photographing her lamps for a new website, as well as learning what some of the functions on her camera are actually for!

In order to keep the cultural juices flowing I managed to visit the cinema twice this month, and to see two shows in one day!

THE FILMS:

The theory of everything: 
I had mooted the idea to my son that he should watch The theory of everything. He showed very little interest. Once I saw the reviews and heard people talking about the film, I told him he was coming, like it or not. 

Despite seeming suitably gripped throughout, afterwards he managed to say ‘I could have lived without seeing it’. I went into some rant about ‘well, obviously watching that film doesn’t form part of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but if you cannot recognise the greatness of this man then you have something wrong with you.’ What a spirit!

Birdman

I finally got to watch a movie at http://www.arthousecrouchend.co.uk 

The staff were attentive and the seats not as uncomfortable as some rumours I heard. I will definitely go back!

The film itself was really not what I imagined: I left feeling like I had enjoyed it, but not too sure that I had understood it. There was a big nod to the acting fraternity and some great performances. I would consider a second viewing.

 

THE SHOWS:

Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize: The National Portrait Gallery

I made it later than usual to the TW Portrait show, and after hearing conflicting views on the approach to judging this annual show, I was pleasantly surprised to see quite a shift in content. There were a lot more smaller pieces, and less famous people.  A really good mix.

Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude

Schiele’s work was on display at The Courtauld gallery.

He rose to prominence in Vienna, not long before the onset of World War One. His work was without a doubt, radical for it’s time, with quite explicit representations of the body, both male & female. He died aged just twenty-eight alongside many others, including his wife, of Spanish Flu.

I got back to my roots with a cultural variety of events this month, with a Somali wedding and a Bat Mitzvah. Here are a couple of favourites from various parties I photographed this month:

It's mayhem in here!

It's mayhem in here!


Footloose!

Footloose!

Headless wonder!

Headless wonder!

Little coincidences

Feel like a little ramble on tuning in...

Until today I am unaware that I have given the island of St. Helena any real thought, but whilst checking out fellow photographer, Stu Pilkington's website I saw a picture that had beautiful light - a light that reminded me of a picture I really liked in the Taylor Wessing Exhibition this year by Jon Tonks.  It's an image of Marcus Henry at the meteorological station in St. Helena http://www.jontonks.com/portfolio/st-helena-2/#4

The initial image was by Carrie Will and as well as great light it made me chuckle. See it here http://www.someoneiknow.net/carriewill.html

One brain cell led to another and I found myself looking into where exactly St. Helena lies and I discover that it is one of the oldest remaining of the British Overseas Territories, and lies in the South Atlantic. The RMS St Helena is the only way anything, living or inanimate gets to St Helena. 

Are you still with me? Roll on a few hours and I am looking into various societies to find participants for my Downtime project. I searched for Stamp collectors and found 'The Royal Philatelic Society London'. On the homepage is a link to 'St. Helena Archives announcement'. This is what I found...

"The Julian Chapman Memorial Scholarship, administered by The Royal Philatelic Society London, has helped save the postal archives of the South Atlantic island of St. Helena." The Scholarship is available to philatelists, wherever resident, wishing to study Commonwealth stamps or postal history.

So it's funny how all these people have added up to my new 'knowledge' of St. Helena. I have enjoyed seeing some great images and unless by serendipity any of these people happen to read this blog post, they will never know! 

Ramble over.

 

End of Year round up


Roll up roll up for the grand finale…

This year had the same number of days as any other year, but my they were fast days! With the greatest intention I have made a concerted effort to work more wisely this year- more planning, more necessary work, less procrastination etc. and despite some burning of the candle at both ends, I do feel like I have achieved a lot.

There are always trials and tribulations in the life of a 'grown-up' but we can still have fun!

Here are some things that affected me this year:

Taking up a chunk of my time was creating and helping to install a new kitchen. Not a bad job, and my tiling skills have improved! Unfortunately, half way through the job we were burgled. This was a first for me, and very annoying it was, as the guy didn’t steal much, but he stole my computer; my lifeline to everything. What a bleeding inconvenience.

We were contacted by Restorative Solutions, part of the restorative justice programme. RJ brings together those responsible for crime with those harmed by crime.

Peter Woolf was the criminal side of what kick-started restorative justice, and I read his book  ‘The Damage Done’ a few years back, so was aware of the concept.

We were allocated two very nice volunteers who acted as liaison between us and the perpetrator.  He was convicted for eleven counts of burglary, was very compliant and will be deported after serving his sentence.

I never got to meet the guy as he was in prison a fair distance away, and on balance I thought he had wasted enough of my time already, so I wrote him a rather long letter. This is his response:

“ Dear Amanda & Alan

I am very sorry for what happened, I didn’t choose your house, it was just random. I had no other way to live. I had to do something.

I promise you that when I come out from prison, I will do my best to find the right way to live, as you advise me in the letter you sent to me.”

In a weird way, and probably because he didn't cause any personal damage or hold a personal vendetta, I felt a certain affinity with him. I just hope he turns a corner.

 

Another time-consuming exercise was building this website. If you are reading this, then it is working to some degree!

After visiting the Monza Gran Prix for my big birthday last year I had pledged to watch every televised race this season: I think I may have managed four, but I did see Lewis Hamilton drive to glory, and happy that Mclaren have kept Jenson on board. Here’s to next season! 

I raced for life and in the memory and honour of some we have lost to cancer and some who have survived. 

I raced for life and in the memory and honour of some we have lost to cancer and some who have survived. 

I have been fortunate to maintain a good level of fitness thus far, but have upped my game this year: I am now a member of ‘Total Boxer’, a boutique boxing club on the fringes of Crouch End. It was the lure of ‘boxing yoga’ that drew me in, but now I’m hooked (boom boom). There is no intimidation, and it’s an ego free zone, so if you fancy a challenge check them out www.totalboxer.com

The thing I have enjoyed most this year is working on my project, Downtime. I am up to fourteen participants with several lined up in the new year. Talks have started amongst picture editors, so I hope to have something published by mid-late 2015. Please let me know if you know anyone I can add to the collection! 

I continue to offer photography tuition to various groups and individuals. This year I delivered a series of bespoke lessons for a couple who wanted to become wedding photographers, and gave my son his first official lesson where he got most excited about the visible spectrum and I had to reach back to my text books for the scientific angle!

Writing is becoming more of a staple of what I do, which I love, but I can now see why it takes people years to write a novel. That is not my arena, but I currently have three pieces on the go. I'll need to acquire some hermit tendencies to get these completed.

I can't let the year go by without mentioning my absolute bewilderment of the catastrophes and events that have impacted the year: as usual, most pain is inflicted on people, by people. Syria, Isis, Ukraine, Boko Haram, Ebola, shallow politicians, food banks, Palestine, ancient paedophiles. With the excess of information shoved in our faces it's hard to read between the lines. I will continue to give up my seat on the tube and donate to my chosen charities, but that leaves me as ineffective as most. Depressing it is, new it is not. 

Now I've got you in a happy mood, here are some of my favourites of 2014:

Favourite exhibition  Hannah Hoch at the Whitechapel Gallery: Hannah Hoch was an important member of the Berlin Dada movement and a pioneer in collage. David Bailey at The National Portrait Gallery was enjoyable too; I thought the curation was really good and it certainly upped my opinion of the 60's celebrity shooter.

Favourite book When Nietzsche wept by Irvine D. Yalom

Favourite film Dallas Buyer’s club

Best day out 25 years of Rave culture, Finsbury Park.

 

Favourite View Quite a ridiculous idea for me, and there is no way a stand out winner, so here are three great sights I saw this year:

The little yellow train of the Pyrenees: great to look at, great to look from!

The Royal International Air Tattoo, Fairford. I liked watching people watching. Hmmm.

  Lunar landscapes in Iceland  

 

Lunar landscapes in Iceland

 

Favourite person My Son 

 

I am not a big one for New Years resolutions as I am constantly challenging myself with new ideas and learning experiences: I think we should try almost everything at least once! That said, apart from my continuous development as a Photographer there are two things I would like to achieve this year: one is to run a half-marathon and the other is to be able to ride my Unicycle unaided (away from walls) for ten metres!

Careful of flippant remarks: when my son was around seven years old, he and I attended Circus skills classes; one of the skills being the Unicycle. I mentioned how much I enjoyed it, and low and behold I received one for my next birthday! Practice was going well until I fell off one day and whacked my arm on a coffee table: it hurt, a lot. Needless to say my one-wheeled antics slowed right down, so short of selling it I had better get back on the saddle!

Talking of New Years resolutions, I was hoping to build a project based around people's new endeavours, but haven't received much feed back...do you know anyone?  I will be revisiting the idea next January to see just how far people have taken their resolution, or not. I think it's the fear of being found-out that is slowing this idea down!

So, if 2014 was a reflective and putting things in place year, then 2015 is definitely going to be a doing it year. Hold on to your hats and have a great one!

Amanda x

Welcome Home

Last week I shot some interiors for Jessica Blair, interior designer. After spending a number of years in the lifestyle & interiors market as an assistant, it was like coming home.

There was a lot to shoot across three properties, and if you haven’t shot interiors before you may think you just stick a camera in the corner of a room and fire. No, there are usually space constraints, the positioning of non-moveable items, angles, and people’s ‘stuff’. Stuff in the way, stuff reflecting in other stuff, stuff that doesn’t work aesthetically. Why do we have so much stuff?!

This may be the most critical type of photography for looking around the viewfinder - it’s easy to miss a random item in a room-shot, like the plastic water bottle accidentally left on the mantlepiece in Downton Abbey!

A lot of interiors work is aspirational, and you could tell the decor and furnishings had been well matched to their owners. I met two of the home-owners and just the au pair and cleaner in the third! You know what I’m saying.

It was a drizzly, dull day which is not ideal when you want to portray a bright & breezy atmosphere, but with long exposures and a ping of flash here & there I think we pulled it off!

Here’s a taster…

Nice place to read and reflect

Nice place to read and reflect

Loving this space - it flows through to the kitchen which has the most amazing tiles 

Loving this space - it flows through to the kitchen which has the most amazing tiles 

Light fantastic!

Light fantastic!

Wow!

Wow!

Little touches

Little touches

Knitted furniture anyone? This was a great house full of quirkiness!

Knitted furniture anyone? This was a great house full of quirkiness!

Amazing mosaic feature wall

Amazing mosaic feature wall

The long view

The long view

Play that funky music!

Play that funky music!

November News

Blink and you’ll miss it: hard to believe another month is nearly over. With only a couple of days left, and a busy weekend ahead, I thought I should round-up now.

I have attended a good number of meet-ups and private views this month. Despite having to sniff out the venue for the launch of the new Flip magazine due to ‘the cloud’ doing weird stuff with my emails- is it just me? It was great to pick up a copy hot off the press. Flip magazine showcases work from members of London Independent Photographers. To find out more visit:

http://www.londonphotography.org.uk/magazine/

I have two more shots in the bag for the Downtime project, and a third planned for Sunday. You’ll see ‘The Jedi’ below and here is the latest addition; a Ukelele-playing Psychotherapist. 

Within two minutes of meeting this guy he had his Ukulele out and was crooning. Confidence abounds!

And, so it was Remembrance Day this month, and the hundredth year since the start of World War One. I have somehow become the photographer to cover memorial events at the Islington and Camden Cemetery. This year we had a Choir from Islington Council Staff and two Buglers in the mix. Despite being there many times I managed to get lost this year (that’s what happens when you get complacent!).

Anyhow, if you are ever in the area, it’s worth a visit- it’s a huge cemetery and they have introduced a self-led walk showing some of the WW1 military graves.

 

Not something I normally do, but with good relations from my Son’s first school, I was asked if I would pick up the gauntlet of school’s photographer as they had a disaster with the last photographer. Well, 239 kids in six hours is a lot faster than my normal pace, but we got there, and what a bunch of cuties! The only downside was the hours I spent editing to remove bogies and lunchtime spillages. I like to go the extra mile!

Other fun times were Fireworks at Alexandra Palace accompanied by a bit too much mulled wine and good company, and a trip to ‘Ripley’s Believe it or not’ in Piccadilly. I had the joy of attending with four teenage boys, but I enjoyed it as much as they did!

I started writing this on Black Friday with tales of hideous behaviour in stores around the country. Now it’s Saturday and I can only wish you a rainbow of adventures for December. See you there! 

 

ZAl37.jpg



Creative Director

Last Sunday's special viewing at the Islington Art Society's autumn exhibition saw a brush with Award-winning film director Gillies MacKinnon and his oil painting "Nineteen Elements". 

MacKinnon, who studied at the Glasgow School of Art, is known for films such as Regeneration (Behind the Lines), Hideous Kinky and The Last of the Blonde Bombshells, and his recent television work includes The Village and Inspector George Gently.

MacKinnon is among the 90 society members exhibiting 240 artworks in the Hornsey library's Original and Promenade GalleriesLast chance to see 1.00pm-5.00pm Saturday, 22November.

Further details see http://www.islingtonartsociety.org.uk/exhibitions.html
 

IAS_GilliesMac.jpg

May the force be with you

I was joined by a Jedi today as part of my Downtime project.

'Eric' the postman has invested a lot of time and effort perfecting his Jedi persona and I was very impressed with his outfit.

Things could have turned out very differently if he was a Sith...

Jedi12.jpg

Islington Art Society Autumn Exhibition

The IAS Autumn Exhibition is in the middle of it's annual run. Opened this year by Sandy Nairne, CBE and Director of the National Portrait Gallery. The Exhibition runs until 22nd November at the Original Gallery, Hornsey Library, Crouch End, N8 9JA and entry is free.

There was a terrific turn out at the Private View where I was busy taking photographs for the society: We got good press coverage with images printed on the front page of The Islington Tribune and also this week's Ham & High (Broadway edition).

If you are local and want to see a wide range of artistic styles from your creative neighbours, go along. I will be there on Tuesday 18th November between 4 and 7pm.

Here are a few pics from the event, along with my two pieces that are hanging on the wall. 

  Member Robin Stevenson, chair Virginia Jackson, Sandy Nairne, director of the National Portrait Gallery and secretary Jo Pethybridge

 

Member Robin Stevenson, chair Virginia Jackson, Sandy Nairne, director of the National Portrait Gallery and secretary Jo Pethybridge

Helen Kaminsky with her collage Stage Whisper

Helen Kaminsky with her collage Stage Whisper

A private view

A private view

Dennis and Fluffy I

Dennis and Fluffy I

Bob & Billy Boy

Bob & Billy Boy

Welcome!

Hello and welcome to my new website and blog!

I plan to post a monthly round-up of my photographic activities, alongside a spattering of other interesting snippets from the world around us. Feel free to join in at any time!

Amanda

 

October Round-up

October has seen an action-packed agenda of work & pleasure. I completely disagree with not mixing the two: if you spend a third of your ‘active working years’ in a vocation you had better try and enjoy it!

Here are some of the highlights:

 

I found myself at the Madejski Stadium, home to Reading FC and London Irish Rugby club. My job had nothing to do with sport however, as I was photographing the MC conference for Atkins: one of the world’s leading Design, engineering and project management consultancies.

Being a photographer sometimes gives you an insight into worlds’ of work that you may be aware of, but know little about. 

I have been a member of Friend’s of the Earth for around twenty years, so I do have an interest in the way we interact with the planet. This conference gave me an insight in to how people make decisions on our behalf in terms of analysing the data and finding solutions for a sustainable future. This was coming from a business perspective, but these people do have to find ways of balancing profit, pleasing share-holders and ‘doing the right thing’. I think I’ll stick to photography.

AT14_354.jpg
Loom bands/team-building. Go figure!

Loom bands/team-building. Go figure!


On a spectacular October day I took my son along to help with the harvest at Chigwell’s only Vineyard: I have to admit with the sunshine, green vines and blue skies I got carried away taking pictures, but the boy did a grand job!

I am writing an editorial piece about the Vineyard, on the back of another project, so watch this space!

Gravel Lane Vineyard

Gravel Lane Vineyard

The boy

The boy

I had five days work with the lady decorators in North London: part of my portfolio career! 

I also managed to fit in three photo shoots for my Downtime project dotted around London which I am very excited about: see the images in the Projects section.

London Independent Photographer’s had their annual exhibition at the Embassy Tea Gallery in Southwark. There was a good turnout at the private view and I had two prints on projection:

Woman with an eye

Woman with an eye

Bob & Billy Boy

Bob & Billy Boy

I had four amazing days in Iceland, celebrating a very good friend’s birthday. With stunning scenery and exhilarating conditions, I would recommend this country to everyone!


Spooksville

Spooksville

Blue Lagoon Spa: Heaven on earth

Blue Lagoon Spa: Heaven on earth

It really was cold!

It really was cold!

Beats a London geezer any day!

Beats a London geezer any day!

The stunning Gullfoss (Golden Waterfall), is fed by Iceland´s second biggest glacier, the Langjökull. 

The stunning Gullfoss (Golden Waterfall), is fed by Iceland´s second biggest glacier, the Langjökull. 

Bleak

Bleak

 

I made it to the last day of the Virginia Woolf exhibition at the National Portrait gallery and discovered that Julia Margaret Cameron was her aunt. Julia Margaret Cameron was one of the first female photographers I heard about when studying my A levels many moons ago. An interesting exhibition and another reminder of being born into the right circles does wonders for your career. 

Until next time

Amanda